IT and Change Management in the Federal Workplace

Posted by Mary Davie
on May 1, 2012

Now that I’ve passed the one-year mark in writing this blog, I can look back and see what a tremendous opportunity this has been. I’ve had the chance to comment on how IT can help make government more efficient and sustainable, address the potential cost savings of IT procurement, and explain how government can achieve these savings by adopting new IT delivery models such as cloud computing and shared services.

One area that’s often overlooked during this time of change and technological innovation is the impact new technology has on federal workers. To achieve the positive effects I’ve been discussing, government leaders need to keep our entire workforce engaged with new technology. At GSA, we’ve made great progress modernizing our technology and preparing our employees to use it.

The benefits of workplace innovation

We are beginning another technology sea change with the transition to mobile government. Mobile government will be more mission-capable and responsive to the needs of the taxpayers. That’s because mobility connects employees with each other and releases them from traditional, static office space, enabling work from anywhere, at any time. Embracing mobile technology allows government to eliminate redundant systems, consolidate office space, be more sustainable, and increase the productivity of our workforce.

However, our progress should be measured by business results resulting from workers leveraging technology, not by the number of changes in and of themselves. For example, providing mobile access to employees through secure VPN and laptops is not enough. The government workforce is diverse and multi-generational, and some will have more familiarity with the technology than others. That means we need to provide training and change management that’s appropriate for employees of all backgrounds.

GSA is balancing change and engagement

GSA understands the benefits of training and enabling our employees to do more with technology. Our CIO team, led by Casey Coleman, has conducted change management programs to educate and engage employees for several new enterprise systems. For example, change management played a huge role in successfully migrating more than 17,000 GSA users from our in-house Lotus Notes e-mail system to cloud-based Google e-mail, which helped us save 50% on the cost of e-mail and decommission 45 servers.

Most recently, GSA has begun using Salesforce Chatter as an enterprise-wide internal collaboration tool. In just the past few months, Chatter has become a primary communications channel for thousands of GSA employees, enhancing the way we communicate as an agency through increased collaboration and sharing of information. We’re measuring our adoption rates for Chatter through number of posts, frequency of specific hashtags, and number of groups created. We’re finding that people across the agency can tap into expertise and knowledge in a matter of minutes in some cases and that helps us better serve our public sector partners.

GSA prepared for both Google e-mail and the Chatter rollout with mandatory online training, on-site help desks, “reverse mentoring” for our executives, and self-help videos. We also made it as simple as possible to get into these programs by using single sign-on so employees can use their existing usernames and passwords.

I invite you to share your own experiences and best practices by leaving a comment, or sending me a tweet @Marydavie.

I will also be at the annual GSA Training Conference and Expo in San Antonio from May 14-17. The EXPO is a unique opportunity to attend training and talk to GSA experts and our vendor partners about technologies like mobility, cloud computing, and cybersecurity. For more information, please visit the Expo  webpage.

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